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Tender, flavorful Cashew Chicken and Vegetables
Homemade Honey Cashew Chicken is so much better than Chinese takeout!
We adore the sweet heat in this easy, quick cooking, satisfying cashew chicken recipe. Our Asian-American inspired stir-fry is loaded with tender chunks of chicken breast, crisp red bell pepper, onions, tender broccoli florets and plenty of roasted cashews.
This skillet meal is finished with a delicious sticky sauce creating a delicious flavor explosion. Start cooking the rice first because this stir-fry will be ready in under an hour!
For the marinade:
- cornstarch used to seal the chicken and keep it tender
- fresh ground black pepper
- low-sodium soy sauce also used in the sauce
- sesame oil for terrific flavor
- rice vinegar for acidic flavor to balance the sweet sauce
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
For the sauce:
- cornstarch for thickening the sauce as it cooks
- rice vinegar for a nice tangy bite
- honey or brown sugar, both work very well
- low-sodium soy sauce or regular soy sauce
- Sriracha sauce or your favorite chili garlic sauce or hot sauce
- water or chicken broth
For the stir-fry:
- vegetable oil for sautéing
- broccoli florets
- sweet onion
- red bell pepper
- fresh garlic cloves minced
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- unsalted cashew nuts
- cooked rice
- sliced green onions
- toasted sesame seeds
Overview: How to make Cashew Chicken
This simple recipe is divided into three easy steps. Once measured and prepped, this recipe comes together quickly.
Before you begin, start cooking the rice if planning to serve with the cashew chicken.
1. First make the marinade:
Cut the chicken breasts or thighs into one-inch pieces. In a large bowl combine cornstarch, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate.
This step can be done up to 4 hours in advance. For storage longer than 20 to 30 minutes be sure to cover and refrigerate the chicken until ready to cook.
2. Next combine the sauce ingredients:
Whisk the cornstarch, rive vinegar, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce and water together. Set aside.
3. Stir-fry the chicken and vegetables:
Drain the chicken in a colander or mesh sieve then spread the chicken pieces out on a paper towel lined plate. Blot dry with additional paper towels.
Heat vegetables oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan then add the vegetables. Stir-fry until all vegetables are crisp tender. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant.
Reduce the heat to medium-low.
4. Add the sauce and serve:
Finally, add the chicken back to the pan with the vegetables. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened and the chicken and vegetables are coated.
Turn off the heat and add the cashews. Stir to coat. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
Serve immediately garnished with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Serve over sticky Jasmine rice for a complete meal.
Hot cooked rice is perfect for soaking up the sweet and spicy sauce in this stir-fry classic. We don’t eat a lot of rice these days, but when we do it must be topped with a rainbow of vegetables and delicious protein.
Toasted cashews provide great textural balance and crunch, and the fresh sliced green onions complete the dish. Many Cashew Chicken recipes include brown sugar in the sauce. We’ve replaced the sugar with honey in this recipe but you can use equal amounts of brown sugar if desired.
Another Asian inspired dish sweetened with honey is our Easy Stir Fry Vegetables. It’s another easy and delicious recipe and perfect for a meatless-Monday meal or quick weeknight dinner.
Chicken with cashew nuts is my go-to favorite when craving Asian inspired recipes.
Originally posted in 2012, this recipe has gone through some delicious updates and improvements over the years. This final version is a keeper and is on repeat in our house!
Cornstarch may seem like an odd marinade ingredient as it’s usually used to thickened sauces. In this recipe, it does both.The little bit of cornstarch forms a protective barrier that helps prevent the chicken from overcooking and drying out. Nobody likes tough, dried up chicken hidden under some delicious sauce.
This Chinese cooking method, called velveting, can be accomplished by tossing the meat or chicken in cornstarch, or added to the marinade for easy preparation.
Cashew Chicken was invented by a restaurant owner in Springfield, Missouri.
In 1963 chef David Leong created Cashew Chicken using deep fried chicken chunks sautéed in a simple sauce made with oyster sauce and soy sauce.
Thai restaurants often serve a similar dish made with thin sliced chicken, onions and cashews in a light brown sauce that’s not as sweet as the Chinese-America versions. If you’ve never tried Cashew Chicken, now’s a great time!
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Honey Cashew Chicken
For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha sauce more or less to taste
- ½ cup water or chicken broth
For the stir fry:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 large sweet onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper seeds and ribs removed, chopped or sliced
- 3 medium cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup unsalted cashew nuts toasted (see notes)
- hot cooked rice for serving
- ¼ cup sliced green onions for garnish
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- In a large glass bowl prepare the marinade by combining 2 tablespoons cornstarch, black pepper, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil and 1 teaspoon rice vinegar. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the vegetables. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- In a small bowl combine the sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the broccoli, onion and bell pepper and sauté until the vegetables are crisp tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and then the honey sauce mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and all vegetables and chicken are coated, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cashews to the skillet. Stir to coat. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice garnished with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Easy, quick and flavorful Honey Cashew Chicken
This one skillet meal can be adapted to suit your family favorites. Adjust the level of sweet heat by adding more or less honey, sugar, hot sauce and crushed red pepper flakes.
You can also change up this recipe by substituting your favorite fresh vegetables. We love broccoli and red bell pepper in this stir-fry, but green bell pepper, snow peas, asparagus, water chestnuts all work well too.
Plan ahead and make your own flavorful Sweet Chili Sauce to use in place of Sriracha hot sauce.
Finally, don’t miss these great recipes for Spicy Basil Chicken, Beef with Broccoli and the incredibly flavored Mongolian Beef. We love our stir-fry recipes and bet you will too.
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